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Rhodes University (2022)

The transformative potential of intersecting with arts-based inquiry and environmental learning in urban South Africa : a focus on socio-ecological water pedagogies

James, Anna Katharine

Titre : The transformative potential of intersecting with arts-based inquiry and environmental learning in urban South Africa : a focus on socio-ecological water pedagogies

Auteur : James, Anna Katharine

Université de soutenance : Rhodes University

Grade : Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) 2022

Résumé partiel
In this study I explore and explain transformative potential in arts-based environmental learning with a focus on water pedagogy. The study took place over a period of four years, where approximately 40 school pupils between the ages of 10 and 17 years-old were engaged in participatory arts-based inquiries into water located across unequal neighbourhoods in Cape Town, South Africa. Educators, school learners, citizens and decision-makers hold different historical, cultural, political and spiritual perspectives on water. These play a role in shaping what is termed in this research the ‘hydro-social cycle’. Yet, due to dominant ideas of what counts as knowing and truth, educators in educational settings struggle to account for the complexity of water, limiting educational encounters to a partial knowing leading mostly to limited unimaginative framings of problems and solutions. My focus on transformative potential in learning is derived from a concern for how environmental education encounters and the sense-making they enable, are infused by socio-economic, political, and historical elements, specifically colonialism, capitalism, and white supremacist racism. The connections between the multiple layers of capitalist crisis and the ever-urgent environmental crisis are not adequately made in mainstream forms of water education. The research explores how arts-based pedagogy could enable a productive meeting of critical environmental education with ecological literacies. Within this positioning, transformative potential considers how educational engagements position questions about water within the social life of participants/learners and inform learning that leads to fuller and more nuanced greater knowledge. Theoretically, I work with an interrogation of critical education theory, underlaboured by critical realism which enabled me to rigorously consider how claims to knowing are shaped by their accompanying assumptions of what is real. Drawing on recent debates in critical education theory, I resist the notion of critique as ideology and engage instead in the craftsmanship of contextual and responsive inquiry practice. This has enabled me to articulate processes and relationships in water education encounters with meaningful understandings of the effects of simultaneous crises rooted in racial capitalism and environmental crisis. My methodological approach is arts-based educational research with a directive to reflect upon educational encounters in an integrated way. It includes two parts informing the facilitation and analysis of open-ended learning processes. One component was arts-based inquiry practice developed for exploring complexity, drawing on the thinking of Norris (2009, 2011) and Finley (2016, 2017). The second part holds reflective space for these encounters guided by the practice of pedagogical narration inspired by the Reggio Amelia approach, demonstrated by Pacini-Ketchabaw, Nxumalo, Kocher, Elliot and Sanchez (2014). Clarifying the intellectual work of a responsive educator-researcher, pedagogical narration brings multiple theoretical lenses into conversation with emergent dimensions of educational process.

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Page publiée le 14 janvier 2023